HAMMER GUN first, the rest nowhere, on the old Southwell fibresand. THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

All-Weather Analysis: Southwell Racecourse

The all-weather track at Southwell racecourse was re-laid from fibresand to tapeta in the spring/summer of 2021, and racing resumed on 7th December 2021. Hence, for this sixth track in my all-weather analysis series, I will be using racing data from 7th December 2021 to 30th September 2022, writes Dave Renham. This gives us relatively limited data at this stage (293 races in total) but it will still be interesting to see what shows itself. My race data collection has once again been taken solely from the Geegeez Query Tool and therefore all profits / losses have been calculated to Industry Starting Price. I will include Betfair SP data when it is worth sharing.

Personally I liked the old fibresand surface as it offered some playable biases, but there’s no point dwelling on the past! Let’s start digging into the future, and the tapeta numbers.

Running Style at Southwell

For running style data I only examine handicaps and usually handicaps of 8 or more runners. For this piece, however, I am going to use 7 or more runners just to give us a little extra data to work with.

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Southwell 5f Run Style Bias

Let’s start as usual with the minimum trip of 5f. It is a straight five at Southwell; the only distance raced on the straight course there. Here are the run style splits for the new tapeta surface (40 races):



Front runners have certainly had the best of it to date, and by some considerable margin. 40 races is usually enough to start building up a picture. The A/E indices correlate strongly as one would expect:



If these types of figures continue in the coming months, Southwell’s 5f trip will become one of the most potent front running biases on the sand.

I also thought it would be a good idea to work out the Percentage of Rival Beaten (PRB) figures for each run style in these 5f handicaps. These were manually calculated and an explanation of them can be found in my first Dundalk article.

Here are the PRB splits:



These correlate positively with the earlier two sets of stats. The beauty of PRB is that it includes all runners in all races, which creates a much bigger data pool. All things considered, I am confident there is currently a strong front-running bias in 5f handicaps on this new surface at Southwell.


Southwell 6f Run Style Bias

Onto 6f now and this is the first distance run around a bend.



Front runners continue to have a good edge according to the win percentages, although it doesn't seem to be as potent over this extra furlong. 41 races in the sample so similar to the 5f data shared earlier. A look at A/E indices next:



There is a positive correlation with the A/E indices and the win percentages once more. PRB figures now:



Front runners have a decent edge using this ‘measure’ once again, while the other three running styles are all around the same mark. All three data sets are giving a positive edge for front runners, and I am hopeful this trend will continue over the winter. There does not seem too much to choose between the other three running styles.


Southwell 7f Run Style Bias

There have been 32 handicaps with 7+ runners over this trip since the re-laying so the smallest sample to date. Here are the figures in tabular form:



As can be seen, front runners have not enjoyed the advantage over this 7f trip. Indeed I worked out their PRB figure and it is very low at 0.43. It is a smallish sample so I would not want to be making sweeping conclusions just yet, but my gut feel is that front runners are not the way to go at this trip. Currently run style is not a factor I would consider too deeply over this distance at Southwell.


Southwell 1m Run Style Bias

A quick look at the 1 mile handicap data:



There is very little between each group now in reality at this trip of 1 mile and, so far, it looks to play very fairly.


To finish this section I will combine all longer trips together into one group.


Southwell 1m3f+ Run Style Bias

This gives us just under 60 handicap races to breakdown:



Front runners over these distances have a poor record, while the best approach seems to be held up early.

It appears at this stage, therefore, that in terms of run style at Southwell, we have two main trips to focus on. Five furlongs, where the front running bias looks very strong, and six furlongs, where the front running bias is significant enough to be of interest. Also, when we look at 1m 3f+ races, it could pay to avoid front runners while potentially keeping an eye on hold up horses. 


The Draw at Southwell

Here is the Southwell racecourse map.



It is a 10f oval circuit with a 5f straight track. Let’s now drill down into the draw data:


Southwell 5f Draw Bias

The shortest distance first and, as mentioned, the only straight track race distance. Here are the splits since the course was re-laid to tapeta:



These stats potentially suggest that low draws may enjoy a very small edge, and if we look at the win and placed stats combined, this starts to look a more likely scenario:



In order to hopefully confirm that there has been a low draw bias of some description, we need to see the percentage of rivals beaten (PRB) data.



I think this underlines the fact that lower draws have had a tangible edge to date. Also, if you ringfenced stalls 1 to 4, their combined PRB figure stands at an even higher 0.57. The most successful stall has been the lowest one (draw 1) – this draw has seen its runners produce a huge PRB figure of 0.66.

It is also worth noting that if you had backed all low drawn runners in every qualifying 5f handicap you would have made a profit of around £19.00 to £1 level stakes equating to a return of around 12p in the £.

It is still early days, but the signs are we may have a low draw bias to try and take advantage of. The old 5f stats on the fibresand also favoured low which I guess may give us further confidence in these initial findings.


Southwell 6f Draw Bias

Here are the draw splits for the 6f trip:



Middle draws potentially fare best. How about the PRB figures?



There is nothing in it on PRB, which is the most accurate measure of potential draw bias. The A/E indices for each third are within 0.1 of each other, too, so taking all data into account it seems 6f is a level playing field so far from a draw perspective.


Southwell 7f Draw Bias

Onto 7f now and, like the 6f trip, they race around a single lefthand bend.



This race sample of 32 is the smallest to date and although these figures suggest middle draws are being squeezed a little, I personally don’t think there is anything significant going on here draw wise. The PRB figures will shed more light:



As we can see, middle draws don’t seem at a disadvantage after all. Low draws may have a slight edge but I would like to see another year’s worth of data to see if this is actually the case. It looks pretty fair at this stage.


Southwell 1m Draw Bias

Nothing to report over 1 mile really. The 30 races have seen 10 wins for low draws, 9 for middle and 11 for high.

Time to move away from the draw – it seems a level playing field from 6f upwards. As stated earlier, there may possibly be a small low draw bias over 5f.

From this point on I will be looking at ALL races, not just 7+ runner handicaps.


Trainers at Southwell

Clearly, recent data is going to be limited for trainers. Indeed just seven trainers have saddled 50 or more runners in this time frame. My starting point will therefore be to look at pre-tapeta data; specifically, reviewing fibresand trainer stats going back to 2016. Here are the top trainers from that period (minimum 70 runs; win SR% 13% or more):



From here I am going to focus on the top six trainers in terms of strike rate and look at their record over the past year to see if we can glean anything. Here are my findings:



The first thing to say is that there are limited data for all six trainers. However, the figures for the Balding and Barron’s stables look promising – they are in the same sort of ballpark as before. The others are below par although Karl Burke has had five second places and if, say, two of those had won his figures would be close to pre-tapeta levels. Likewise, if two of Archie Watson’s four seconds had won he, too, would be back to the 22% win SR.

Tim Easterby’s figures are slightly more concerning but it is still early days, so best to wait another year at least to see if his form picks up (Note: After this piece was researched Tim Easterby saddled two winners on 9th Oct 2022 at 9/1 and 40/1!)

Keeping with the Easterby family, the David and Mick Easterby stable have saddled 10 winners from 30 runners in the last year producing returns of 91p in the £. Their 2016 to 2021 fibresand data on the other hand produced just 9 winners from 148 runners. There are some racing statistics that simply cannot be explained!

Before moving on I thought it might be worth comparing the PRB figures for the six trainers across the two time frames. At least this way we get slightly more detailed data for the last year:



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The figures for the last year are around what I would have expected for five of the trainers given what we knew from the fibresand days. It seems, though, that Karl Burke’s recent figures are not so different after all.

The three Bs of Balding, Barron and Burke are stables that are likely to go well in the coming months. I would not write off the other three yet – we need a few more runs in the sample for them I feel.


Jockeys at Southwell

I’m not going to go into great detail here due to the limited data, but one jockey who has started well since the resurfacing is Daniel Muscutt. At time of writing, he has ridden 13 winners from just 49 rides (SR 26.5%) for a profit of £32.51 (ROI +66.3%). What impresses me more than his bare stats is that he has ridden winners for 11 different stables. Hence there is no trainer bias going on here. Time will tell whether he can keep up this hot streak.

Before moving on, Ben Curtis and Clifford Lee both had excellent fibresand stats going back to 2016. Between them to date they have had only 32 rides between them on the new surface, so too early to tell whether they will maintain their high performance level in the future.


Southwell Gender bias

We have seen a gender bias at each of the all-weather courses I have studied so far. Here are Southwell’s tapeta figures:



For this angle, we have a decent data set and it seems the gender bias is occurring here, too. I also checked out the PRB figures and males have an edge of 0.514 to 0.468.

When we have another year’s worth of results I personally will dig a bit deeper into specific areas like market or distance / gender data.


Southwell Market factors

Time for a look at the win% strike rates for different positions in the betting; starting with favourites and moving down to position 7th or more:



Second favourites have performed above the norm so far but I would expect the 24.5% win SR% to drop to around 20% in time. Favourites are about par losing around 9p in the £ to SP.

A look at market rank A/E indices next:



These are a bit up and down, but this is almost certainly down to the fact we have less than a year's worth of data. The favourite figure, however, is approximately what we might expect.

Over time I would expect these figures to mirror other courses and, hence, I would focus most of my attention on the top five in the betting despite the mixed data we see above.


Sire Performance at Southwell

The data set for sires is really limited. Only eight sires have had 50 or more runners. We will need to wait at least two more years to start seeing any potential patterns. Damsire data is similar with just five damsires having 50 runs or more.


Southwell Horses for courses

Once again our data is limited for this section. One horse has actually won four times (from 9 starts) in the last year and that is Back From Dubai. He won four on the bounce in the early part of 2022, but since then is 0 from 4, his handicap mark taking a deserved hike in the process. Daafy is 3 from 8 (PRB 0.77) and Fine Wine is also 3 wins from 8 starts (PRB 0.67).


Southwell Takeaways

To conclude, despite there only being roughly a year of racing on the new surface we do have some key takeaways.

There looks to be a strong front running bias over 5f in handicaps.

At 6f, front runners also have an edge, although not as powerful as the 5f one.

Back to 5f, there is potentially a slight low draw bias, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out this winter.

Males outperform females as we have seen at all other all weather tracks, while favourites have produced a par performance.

Trainers wise, the Balding and Barron yards - as well perhaps as Karl Burke - are worth generally keeping on side.


That's all for this piece. I'll be back next week with the final chapter, looking at Dunstall Park, better known as Wolverhampton Racecourse.

- DR

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